HomeReviewsSaGa: Emerald Beyond Review

SaGa: Emerald Beyond Review

SaGa: Emerald Beyond

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Switch, PC, Playstation 4 , Playstation 5 (Reviewed)
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $49.99 – Available Here


SaGa may not be a front-runner franchise in terms of RPGs, but it certainly has more history with this year marking the 35th anniversary for the famed namesake. For those new, most SaGa titles are not known for their narratives, but instead the battle mechanics and attention to detail put within the world itself. SaGa: Emerald Beyond is the latest of the lot, and looks to expand that with a chunky offering that is sure to please anyone looking for more choice and decision making. Does this series still have a strong heartbeat, or is this one that misses the mark? Let’s find out.


There is a lot to speak about the story within SaGa: Emerald Beyond, as the game proudly features six different protagonists who can enter one of the game’s 17 worlds. They do this by traveling paths known as “Emerald Waves”, a green line of sorts that connects all the worlds into one universe. Players can travel to any point at mostly free will, and quests, encounters, and events can all vary and change based on character selection and their choice of path they take.Its a lot to come into, but Emerald Beyond does well teaching the player the basics (no matter the path they choose), and all the plot lines feel almost like different games, due mainly to the heavy variances in the six protagonists and how they interact within the worlds featured.

Each character has a base story, along with their own motives, personalities and so on. For example, Tsunanori Mido acts as your standard hero, who must save these worlds as the “chosen one”. Other diverse cast members keep the same overarching themes to this, but focus heavily on their own perspectives. Diva No. 5 is probably the most interesting of the lot, who is a mech that has lost her humanity and her ability to sing, so a good portion of her plot is centered around finding her voice. Sure, not all plots are strong, but most do their job to aid with progression. I do feel however that I got a bit lost in following everything. As I mentioned, there is a lot going on here, and sometimes the story engagement just feels a bit off. I wouldn’t say some portions are necessarily “boring” by any means, but I do think some of the tropes are so heavy with some characters that it is a bit hard to connect to moments of the storytelling. Everything is fine, but most of the time I was more happy simply grinding and doing battles rather than following the tale told here.


There may be a lot of story to chew on, but there is even more offerings with the gameplay itself. SaGa: Emerald Beyond plays like a standard JRPG for the most part, where players take a party into turn based battles found within the many worlds in the game. Each character and their assigned party gain “shimmers”, which assign new abilities at random to strengthen the overall team in battle. You can also gain items as well, and have the ability to choose specific items to equip to the different races within the game, which adds a lot of variety to battles overall.

The battles are absolutely the best part in this “gem”. While the turn-based system dominates the mechanics, there is so many layers to speak of that give it a unique feel. Each battle plays out with a timeline on the bottom. Characters each draw from the same BP pool, which allows moves to be utilized during a battle. Starting out, you will have very little BP to draw from so simple attacks will be the way to go. Each turn rewards more BP, allowing for more divisive techniques and strategies as battles play out. For example, if you only have 4 BP starting and do an attack with 3 BP, you only have 1 BP remaining for the rest of your party, which may or not be enough to attack. This is why paying attention to that timeline is pivotal, as enemy strategies also shift due to your choices – which leads to some fairly complex decision-making. 

The timeline also allows for players to do things like protect or even sacrifice their own team members in order to be successful in a battle. Because stats reset after, the focus is on that one encounter, which sounds easier than it really is. Chaining attacks, focusing on one powerful foe, or setting up calculated techniques based on where each member is on the timeline is really the name of the game in terms of combat. Its a bit overwhelming at first to learn, but a combat system that becomes second nature after a few battles. 

I personally found all of this to be just as addictive as it was rewarding. Sure, there isn’t anything we haven’t seen in games like this before, but the way Emerald Beyond meshes its mechanics really makes it stick out and feel refreshing for the genre. Its odd to go into an RPG and want to do random battles more, but I felt that way most of the time here as they have truly developed a special system here. The world exploration is fine, if not a bit lackluster by comparison. Sure, there a lot of locales to see, but there isn’t a lot of interactivity outside of quests, as everything outside of your focus looks and feels a bit one-dimensional.There is a ton of choice to the “pick your own adventure” styling, but I do wish the worlds were more invested in feeling alive outside of my current quests.


The soundtrack here is pretty decent. Some of the music is a bit generic at times, but never unpleasant. The voice cast do a great job as well with their individual portrayals, even if the audio balancing sounds a bit off, as if each role was performed in separate rooms and the tapes were mailed in to an editing studio. I know that is how most voicework for localized properties work, but it was a bit jarring at times to with the variances in volume in tone taking place in the same conversation.


The visuals are superb. While not every interaction is animated, its kind of a big deal to see a SaGa game get so many details such as facial expressions and minor touches in combat. This really helped the experience feel more grand overall and does a lot to immerse the player in battle. The art style features rich color and lovely touches everywhere. Maybe that is why I craved more interaction and “atmosphere” from the worlds within, as the game really does look great, despite still having a bit of a budget feel as a full package. Either way, this may be the best looking title in the franchise to date as there is a lot to take in and appreciate with the design.


SaGa: Emerald Beyond marks the next chapter in a legacy, and this ambitious offering delivers through over-delivery. Sure, there could be more exploration or interaction, but the satisfying combat and mechanics more than make up for those shortcomings. There is so much to do and see within this title that fans will have their plate full for some time just trying to devour every crumb, only for the game to continue to offer more as new paths are uncovered. This is the definitive SaGa title if you are new or returning to the franchise, and a landmark release that will hopefully continue to evolve the franchise into the future.  

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.


SaGa: Emerald Beyond stands tall with its superb battle mechanics, which are just as addictive as they are enjoyable.
SaGa: Emerald Beyond stands tall with its superb battle mechanics, which are just as addictive as they are enjoyable.SaGa: Emerald Beyond Review